space and science news
Did life start right after the Big bang?
(Dec 8, 2013) Harvard astronomer
Avi Loeb has just published a paper about how life might have
flourished when our 13.8-billion-year-old universe was a mere
15 million years old. Back then, the whole universe was warmer
– which means liquid water could exist even on planets that
were distant from their stars.
Best views yet of Saturn's amazing hexagon
(Dec 7, 2013) NASA's Cassini spacecraft
has obtained the highest-resolution movie yet of a unique six-sided
jet stream, known as the hexagon, around Saturn's north pole.
This is the first hexagon movie of its kind, using color filters,
and the first to show a complete view of the top of Saturn down
to about 70 degrees latitude. Spanning about 20,000 miles (30,000
km) across, the hexagon is a wavy jet stream of 200-mile-per-hour
winds with a massive, rotating storm at the center. There is no
weather feature exactly, consistently like this anywhere else
in the solar system.
Supermassive black hole duo in faraway galaxy
(Dec 4, 2013) Astronomers have
spotted what appear to be two supermassive black holes at the
heart of a remote galaxy in orbit around each other. The incredibly
rare sighting was made with the help of NASA's Wide-field Infrared
Survey Explorer (WISE). Follow-up observations with the Australian
Telescope Compact Array near Narrabri, Australia, and the Gemini
South telescope in Chile, revealed unusual features in the galaxy,
including a lumpy jet thought to be the result of one black hole
causing the jet of the other to sway.
Europa's choppy ocean looks friendly to life
(Dec 2, 2013) A new study of surface
features on Europa suggests that ocean inside this moon of Jupiter
is extremely turbulent, with three strong ocean jets. A turbulent
ocean would be beneficial for any life there because it would
help shift nutrients from the sea floor into the rest of the ocean.
more (New Scientist)
Part of ISON may have survived
(Nov 29, 2013) At least a part
of ISON may have survived the comet's close encounter with the
Sun. ISON was initially declared dead when it failed to re-emerge
from behind the Sun with the expected brightness. But recent pictures
have indicated a brightening of what may be a small fragment of
Spectacular new view of an ancient cluster
(Nov 27, 2013) Great new image
from Hubble of the M15 globular cluster in Perseus, 35,000 light-years
away. With an age of about 12 billion years, M15 is among the
oldest such clusters in the Milky Way.
more (Astronomy Picture of the Day)
Brightest gamma-ray burst ever seen
(Nov 23, 2013) A cosmic explosion
caused by the death of a massive star 4 billion light-years away
has been analyzed by scientists. The blast of radiation, called
a gamma-ray burst, was spotted earlier this year by space-based
telescopes and has been confirmed as the brightest ever seen.
Researchers believe the distant star was about 20–30 times
the mass of the Sun.
Our oldest piece of Mars
(Nov 21, 2013) A rock discovered
in the Sahara Desert is the oldest Martian meteorite ever found,
scientists believe. Earlier research had suggested it was about
two billion years old, but new tests indicate the rock actually
dates to 4.4 billion years ago. The dark and glossy meteorite,
nicknamed Black Beauty, would have formed when the Red Planet
was in its infancy.
For science news updates throughout
the day, every day, please visit and "like" my Facebook page.
Still the world's fastest computer ...
(Nov 19, 2013) A supercomputer
built by the Chinese government has retained its place at the
top of a list of the world's most powerful systems. Tianhe-2 can
operate at 33.86 petaflop/s – the equivalent of 33,863 trillion
calculations per second – according to a test called the
Remembering the first lunar take-off
(Nov 17, 2013) On this day in
1967, Surveyor 6, having soft-landed on the Moon a week earlier,
made a six-second flight from its landing site and so became the
first spacecraft to take off again from the lunar surface. At
10:32 UTC, Nov 17, its engine was fired for 2.5 seconds, causing
it to rise 12 feet (4 m) and move west 8 feet (2.5 m) west, before
once again successfully soft landing and continuing its tasks
of taking photos and performing experiments on the surface.
Alien life may flourish on purple planets
(Nov 13, 2013) Find a purple planet,
and you may have spotted alien life. Some of the first Earthlings
were purple bacteria that ruled the planet about 3 billion years
ago. If any Earth-like exoplanets host similar microbes, their
distinctive hue will be visible from space.
more (New Scientist)
Asteroid springs comet-link tails
(Nov 9, 2013) The Hubble telescope
has spotted an asteroid radiating six comet-like tails, making
it resemble a "rotating lawn sprinkler". Other asteroids appear
as tiny points of light to astronomers, who are puzzled by the
outbursts of dust. Asteroid P/2013 P5 has been ejecting dust periodically
for at least five months and may be in the process of breaking
India's Mars Orbiter Mission successfully launched
(Nov 5, 2013) The Mars Orbiter
Mission (MOM), began the first leg of its journey to the Red Planet
today at 14:38 IST (4:08 a.m. EST). This is Indiaís first mission
to Mars. The 1,100 lb kg spacecraft, plus 1,870 kg of onboard
propellant and oxidizer, was lofted from the Satish Dhawan Space
Center on Sriharikota Island, 50 miles north of Chennai, by flight
C25 of the XL variant of the four-stage India Space Research Organizationís
(ISRO) PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle).
more (Spaceflight Insider)
My latest ...
Available as ebooks ...
In print ...
Out of print ...
Used copies available
A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z